Major Depressive Disorder
Depression can be worse at certain times of the year, especially around anniversaries and milestones.
This is is how it affects one person.
But March isn't really far behind, in my book.
Both months have been difficult for me for the past nine years. They're the anniversaries of my last nervous breakdown, which for the most part I have put behind me, except when the anniversary comes about.
Nine years ago, my life unraveled.
I was in New York, alone, dealing with a dubious relationship. My dad was dying, I'd just lost my job, mom was refusing to let me come down to Florida, I'd lost my disability and my apartment was a disaster. On April 23, 2004 I wound up going into the hospital, on the fifth floor locked ward (the irony of that being that there was a movie of the same name made in the '70s).
Amazingly, I can laugh about that now.
On April 27th, 2004, my dad passed. I wasn't allowed out of the hospital for the funeral. Nine years later, around this time every year, the guilt comes back full force. Even though I know he understood. Even though I went to his memorial service a few months later, when we buried his ashes.
I never really got to say goodbye, and I needed to. I suppose I'll always feel badly about that until I get to see him again and apologize in person. If I'll even get that chance, which is doubtful with the type of faith crisis I'm having now.
I've been told God doesn't give up on anyone. More credit to Him then. I feel like I'm a lost cause and I'm just waiting for Him to realize the same thing.
Bottom line, living with major depression is a bitch. I hate talking about it, I hate feeling like this, I hate everything about my life right now. The only thing that's changed in the past nine years is that I may just have better tools to deal with it. I use my sarcasm to make fun of myself. I don't lash out and alienate people as much as used to. I basically retreat from everyone, rather than cling on to people as much as I used to (for the most part anyway).
I channel the bulk of my crap feelings into writing, or going for a walk, or singing at the top of my lungs, managing to distract myself from the garbage for a while. I remind myself that I have the most awesome social media (and real) friends ever, most of whom I don't deserve, and two that I will never understand why they stick around, but they do.
And all this is good, I understand that. But the thing is, that I'm alone most of the time. I've been trying to remedy that for the past six months, and everything I've tried has fallen through. For the next six weeks, I don't know if I have the energy to try to do anything at all.
The other thing is that my year is rapidly developing into a series of doctor and dentist appointments, trying to get my sugar stabilized, trying to get my teeth fixed, trying to get my eczema under control. Most of the time I want to stay in bed. I'm longing for warmer weather, because then I'll be out more, walking, and feeling better. I know once my teeth are fixed, and I get on the right dosage of diabetes medication, and everything else, I'll continue to feel better.
But there are times, especially during these next six weeks when I just want to find someone - anyone - lay my head their shoulder, and cry until I can't anymore while they hug me as tightly as they can. I know this will pass.
It's the waiting that kills me.
Thanks for listening.
I feel like every time I post, it's more of the same.
That's all happening right now. I'm taking a break from therapy. Well, it's been five months since I went to therapy and I'm not back yet so who knows?
I quit school. I couldn't handle it anymore. It's a little easier when I'm working, the variety of life is better than sitting in a classroom with unmedicated Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
I have three jobs. It's enough to pay my bills (plus some) but I can't stop because if I stop I'll sink. I run and run and run. I volunteer and go to church and work 50+ hours a week. I'm surviving like this. I can't imagine slowing down. I can't imagine doing one thing all the time.
I'm on the board of directors for a non-profit organization. They don't know what's going on and neither do any of my bosses. My parents think the storm has passed. My friends think I'm doing fairly well, but I'm not so sure. How does someone even judge that? Sometimes I have trouble getting groceries or doing my laundry. Normal people don't have those problems.
What does that make me?
If we're to believe the adorably sweet commercials, we should be the happiest we've ever been. Christmas is coming, we're going to be with our families and everyone is holly and jolly.
Unless they're not.
The holidays can be one of the most stressful - not wonderful - times of the year for so many of us. Unmet deadlines. Family drama. Divorce. Loss. Grieving. Mental illness. Depression.
Loving Someone With Depression Resources
Coping With Anxiety
The holidays can be a recipe for disaster for so many. That's why we're putting together a list of coping mechanisms for the holidays and including some of our resources for those of us who don't have the twinkle in our eyes or the White Christmas we're supposed to have.
Depression and stress can ruin the holidays. And it's not surprising - unlike other parts of the year, the holidays bring with them a huge amount of obligations, demands, and expectations upon us. So how can we minimize the depression and stress we feel during the holiday madness?
Here are some ways to cope with holiday depression and stress:
The Do's of Coping With Holiday Stress:
Reach out: social media, The Band, a friend. Don't let the silence overtake you. On the other hand, know that is absolutely fine to be silent if that is what you need. Just be aware of what can help YOU.
Find something to do if you're far away from your family on the holidays. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit folks in a nursing home, anything to allow you to feel a sense of pride and give to others.
No pressure. Don't feel pressure to do anything or buy anything you can't afford financially or emotionally. Comfort and joy are different for everyone.
If you are missing someone and grieving a loss, give yourself some space
Set realistic and achievable goals for the holiday season. No one's perfect and you don't have to pretend that you are in order to please everyone.
Sometimes you can't (or don't want to) travel 1000 miles, it isn't easy to pack up the car, grab a plane ticket, or maybe you want to stop running from house to house, make sure your kids have holidays in their own home, that is all okay, too. Never let anyone (family included!) guilt you into something that will make your holidays less joyous and more stressful.
Make sure you make a plan of attack so you know what you're doing and when so that you can see where you're overbooked and need to cancel plans.
It's okay to be sad during the holidays. They often hold so many memories of times past, loved ones lost, how things have changed and sort of serve as a barometer from year to year. So it's okay to be sad, reflective, emotional, anxious, and happy, all at once.
Set your boundaries accordingly, and don't feel guilty about putting you and your family first.
It's okay to say no, if you know a situation will trigger your depression, anxiety, etc. People who love you will understand.
Drop ins are great. Pop in, say hello and leave. Don't feel obligated to stay for an extended period of time.
Do your best to put aside your differences for the day and enjoy the holiday as best as you can. The holidays aren't a time for airing issues; they're a time for togetherness. Fight your fights another time.
Make sure that you don't overspend. It's easy to get wrapped up in all the things others want for the holidays - but you don't need to spend the holidays worrying about how to pay for all of it!
When it feels overwhelming, take a break and do something that makes you laugh. The little things can really help keep you moving and out of that catatonic state.
Get outside. Even if it's a 10 minute walk and you are stomping your feet and feeling huffy about it the first five minutes. Ten minutes later you WILL feel better.
Do treat yourself, pamper yourself and take care of yourself.
Try to remember what the holidays mean to you and make sure to create that experience for yourself.
Get caught up in the feeling of giving and love!
Turn off your phone, TV, computer for 20 minutes and just look at your Christmas tree, menorah, etc. SING!
Realize that regardless of all the ridiculous money-making schemes at stores, and all the Grinch's and Scrooges around you, that this should be a time of giving, friends & family, love, hope, and peace on earth.
Do your best to keep that in your heart this season.
If it all begins to feel like too much, you're crying all the time, you can't sleep, and you're riddled with anxiety, seek professional help. There's no shame in needing a little help during a particularly hard time of the year.
The Don'ts of Coping With Holiday Stress:
Don't pretend your feelings exist. Acknowledge that you're feeling like crap and share this with someone you love and trust. It's okay to have feelings - even unpleasant ones. It doesn't make you weak or pathetic - it makes you human.
Don't push yourself into doing more than you can't handle.
Don't be afraid to say "no" when you can't do something during the holidays.
Don't neglect your body and health during the holiday season. Eat well, sleep well, and take time for yourself every day.
Don't overdo it! Don't over-eat. Don't over-drink. Don't over-stress. Don't over-visit relatives.
Don't over-do the makeup, hair and cocktails at your company Christmas party.
Do you have any other tips for coping with depression, stress, and anxiety during the holidays or other stressful occasions?
Depressive disorders affect almost 19 million US adults. This the story of her on-going battle with depression.
At 23 years old, I was diagnosed with depression. When I told my grandparents the news they replied "We knew that, you doctor told us when you were 17." It pissed me off that both my doctor and my grandparents knew that I was depressed and didn't say anything.
I grew up in a low-class family, living with sexual, emotional, and physical abuse for many years of my childhood. I wore hand-me-down clothes I never complained about. I worked for my family business. I went to school.
I moved out at an early age.
After fending for myself for a summer, working to help pay for a room in a small apartment, I started my third year of high school. I moved in with family, and did chores to help the family as I had no income. Eventually my grandparents offered the family a monthly contribution to help with my expenses; they didn't want me to have to juggle working and school.
I went on to finish high school, go to college, get married, and have children. Not exactly in that order but who's counting? My (now ex) husband quickly got a job when we found out we were expecting. After eight months of living at his parents' house, he'd saved up to do something special for my birthday, but when an apartment came up, we used the money for first and last and got a place of our own.
Even though it was one the highest paying (non-career) jobs in the area, we were still broke. He worked 40 hours a week, while I stayed home and raised our children. We managed to get by, and as the years went on, I got part-time work and he made more and more. We were finally in the middle class.
For the first time in my life I was not considered low-class. We still were broke, though, living paycheck-to-paycheck. He had nasty habits: spending money, financing things, gambling, and drinking. The last two years of our relationship I was severely depressed, taking anti-depressants for the first time in my life.
I gave it all up for single motherhood and my sanity. Eventually I went off the anti-depressants and managed my depression on my own. I have ups and downs like anyone.
Right now I'm in a down. I think it has to do with the time of year; it also has to do with money and work - or lack thereof.
This time of year reminds me of two loved ones who are no longer with us, as their birthdays are within eight days of each other. Also knowing Christmas is just around the corner and this is by far the worst position I have ever been in at Christmas.
I don't have any money to buy my children Christmas gifts. Despite opening my own business over a year ago, I have no work.
I have limited my expenses to: car insurance, rent, hydro and phone. I cut off every expense that was not needed - I don't even pay for my internet. Welfare won't help me: according to them, I make enough for the three of us. We are $25,000 below the poverty line where I live. I feel like I'm at my wits end, and have nowhere to turn. I barely make ends meet; there is no extra. At this rate I will never be able to purchase our own home.
I feel so down and depressed lately. It's hard to compare when I worked full-time with an hour commute and paid childcare to now. I don't feel as if I've accomplished anything. Although it's crazy to think that I was only slightly better off financially (could at least afford gifts for the immediate family) working for someone else, I don't feel I'm any better or worse mentally (at my current state of mind).
I do know that for the better part of the past two years I have not been this depressed, so it must be the time of year. The gloomy rain, snow, and shorter days; the guilt associated with not being able to afford the holidays; the constant reminder of not having my role model in my life anymore.
I'm just so sad lately; I feel like crying most nights after everyone's gone to bed. I'm actually choking back tears right now. I feel that I grew up in this life and now I've doomed my children into it as well. I tried to better myself in different ways but nothing seems to be working.
I feel like a complete failure. I feel I'm not getting anywhere. I feel as I've been in the same place in my life that I've always been. I'm afraid that I will not move on from this type of life, that I won't be able to give my children the things I want to, the life I want to.
Do you, The Band, have any tips and ideas for boosting her depression?
Such a simple word with such a variety of implications, not a one of them simple.
This month, the Band is focusing upon recovery - from anything. Part of getting through the traumas, the addictions, the mental illnesses is to focus on the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel and focus upon new coping mechanisms, new ways of life, and recovery.
So, The Band, how are YOU recovering? What are you recovering from? How are some ways you cope while recovering?
It is hard to for me to believe how broken I was this time last year. Completely broken. I was at the bottom and I didn't see a way out. I had the suicide loop playing in my head constantly. I almost did it. Twice.
I went through a bad break-up, two surgeries, and had a lot of financial problems. I didn't like myself very much. I have always suffered from dysthymia, but I had slipped into a major depressive episode. I sought help. I tried several different anti-depressants and they all failed. I was even thinking about electroconvulsive therapy because I just couldn't stand feeling like that anymore. It was a year of hell.
I can't tell you exactly when it started to change, but it did. I had a medication that worked. I started to feel better. I remember one day thinking that I was so far at the bottom, I couldn't possibly go down anymore. The pain had cleansed me somehow and I was going to get better. I did. I got a different job, I started to lose weight, I even started to like myself again.
Band Back Together has helped me so much. I thank everyone who shared their story because it helped me to feel less alone. Am I cured? No. I don't think I will ever be cured, but depression threw everything it could at me and I survived. My life isn't perfect now, but I am able to cope better. I find happiness in the small moments each day.
I am a survivor, I survived.
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